Credit: Hicham Kaidi, Inktober 2018 Prompt: Chicken

Mecha Race Chicken¬†🐔

Cluck, cluck, cluck.

“The chicken race is serious business,” the man said, slapping the Mecha-Chicken’s behind.

Cluck, cluck.

“Now,” he continued, “hop on that chicken and ride like the wind, jockey!” Then he left, onwards to repeat the same pep-talk to his other riders.

Kotopouli hesitantly put on her gear. Vest, breathing apparatus, sword and holster. “The chicken race is serious business,” she sighed to herself, repeating the man’s words.

She took a second to inspect her chicken. It couldn’t have been more of a piece of cluck. The chicken shook violently as its engine ran. Suddenly, she literally snatched a bolt that had shook loose and was flying in the air. She quickly leaned in and grabbed her multitool from her belt, a gift from her grandfather.

As she tightened the bolt back, she remembered the man’s words: “Granddaughter, it’s up to you to win the race for our family’s sake. Your father is too old to try again, and your sister is too fat to ride. It’s why we’ve gotten you ready all these hard years.”

And then he gave her his multi-tool, reverently, as if presenting a magnificent sword.

Kotopouli accepted it and set her jaw firm that day. “I won’t fail you, grandpa!”

Such a stupid girl she had been, she knew now. She glanced at the other jockeys, they were all better equipped for this, better prepared. They all seemed fit and calm and ready to win this thing.

Whereas, she, was scared out of her mind.

Cluck?

Yes, chicken, she was here. Ready to ride.

Cluck, cluck.

What now?

The announcer screamed, “Jockeys, take your places!” and her chicken went to his spot.

Oh. Even he knew more about the race than she did. Oh, she was seriously not ready for this.

“LET THE CHIIIIIIIICKEEEEEEEN RAAAACE BEEEEGIIIIN!”

Cluck!

Holy clucks!

Her chicken darted off, sprinting like crazy. She held on for dear life, as the reigns themselves got torn and became useless. She hugged the chicken’s neck and positioned herself down low. Lucky for her, she barely dodged that way an incoming slash of another jockey’s sword, who had found easy pray and had taken a swing at her during the confusion.

“You clucking bastard!” she raised her fist at him, but they were already worlds apart. Chickens everywhere, bumping and jumping and clucking away, their jockeys trying to control their mounts while at the same time trying to kick their opponents off. And in that chaos, they were all somewhat sort of heading towards the finish line, a black and white ribbon three kilometres ahead.

Another slash, and Kotopouli leaned back completely, arching her back and becoming one with the chicken’s clucking butt. In her adrenaline rush, she saw the blade slicing through the air she had occupied. Angry, she eyed the jockey. He was handsome. “You clucker!” she swore at him and her chicken side butted his own.

The chickens both clucked. It was madness.

Kotopouli realised she needed to get out of that mess. She stood back up on the saddle and pushed her chicken’s head down. “Come on, come on, stupid chicken. Get what I’m getting at. Go. Just clucking go!”

It took its damn time, but it finally got it.

Cluck!

And it shot off towards the finish line.

Kotopouli was happy for a moment, thinking she had outsmarted everyone.

“Oh, no! The bout is over and now the real race begins!” the announcer said.

Kotopouli’s face went pale. She forced herself to look back as the entire flock of chickens came charging her way.

“Go, go, clucking go!” she yelled at her mount, slapping the side of his head. He ran, oh he tried, but he was a piece of cluck.

The flock came crashing on top of her, and in an instant she was overwhelmed, spinning around, out of control, parts flying off into the air, a piston coming in hot and sizzling on her arm, a screw shooting right into her cheek. “Clucking, ow!” she exclaimed, fighting to stay on the saddle.

It was a free-for-all around her. Everybody, and I mean everybody was at each other’s throats. Chicken legs flew off, torn apart by swords or angry beaks. One jockey in particular had a nasty chicken with spinning saws on its beak that tore through at least three other chickens in the few seconds Kotopouli could spare to watch.

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It was madness. It was the chicken race.

Cluck!

“Yes, I know,” she said, trying to comfort her poor mount. “Just try to avoid them all. Just try. And we both might make it to the finish line.”

Who was she kidding? Nobody made it to the finish line, none except the victor. Even then, he or she sometimes didn’t make it in one piece, and that wasn’t an infrequent occurrence.

Every year, each family could sign up a jockey to ride in the chicken races. Every year, the best and the finest, or at least what was left of each family, would ride and get turned into chicken pulp.

Now she realised why her clucking sister kept eating all the time. She couldn’t possibly fit her fat behind in the saddle, let alone have the speed to race.

It seemed, her big sister was the clever one.

A beak came straight at her face and Kotopouli instinctively blocked it with her sword.

It snapped in half, sending shards of metal to slice her arm. She cried out in pain and could see the beak coming in for the kill.

Thankfully, her chicken used the precious seconds she had earned very well. He too dodged and pulled his jockey out of one harm’s way, and straight into a different harm’s way.

An entire chicken jumped up in the air and came slamming down on them. It was big, it was fat, and it was heavy. Kotopouli knew then, she was about to die. Pulped, in the chicken races, a mere five-hundred metres from the finish line.

She closed her eyes, gripped her belt tight, and braced for the inevitable squish.

She felt her multi-tool in her hands. Everything in her body hurt, the chickens weren’t easy to ride even when nobody was trying to kill you, but she realised something. Her grandfather had given this to her for a reason. She gripped it tight and opened her eyes wide, multi-tool in hand.

What do you do with a multi-tool?

“You clucking screw things!” she answered to herself, grinning like a madwoman. The chicken was coming down on both jockeys, fluttering its stupid wings and slightly adjusting its trajectory. Kotopouli fell to the side and in a feat of dexterity, screwed the other chicken’s leg. It froze in place, the chicken turning in circles like, well, a headless chicken. The jockey riding it cursed at her, then got squished.

Cluck!

“Nope, it’s not happening to us,” she assured her chicken, then slapped it to get running.

The squish-happy jockey jumped up in the air again, and Kotopouli repeated the same routine, sabotaging the closest chicken she could find and letting it get squished instead of her.

Cluck. Cluuuck!

“Yes, run, chicken. Run!” she said excited, seeing the opening and going for the finish line.

The heavy chicken realised it too late and began pursuit, but she was light. Lighter than most jockeys actually. She had lost her sword even, and her chicken had shed a few precious pieces of machinery.

“Come oooon! You just have to hold it together for a few more seconds,” she said with gritted teeth, now becoming one with the chicken’s trot. She felt the air hitting her face and her cuts stung, but she didn’t care.

The angry chicken behind her tore through the ground, its feet hitting the earth and digging in holes as it sprinted forward, despite its weight.

Metres away from the finish line, it caught up to her. Or, more precisely, its beak snapped shut on her chicken’s tail, pulling them both to a screeching halt.

“I’m sorry,” she said to her chicken and unbuckled her harness.

Cluck?

Flying through the air, throwing her petite body towards the black-and-white ribbon, she turned back and saw it all in slow motion. She could see her poor chicken’s eyes, realising he’d been left behind, abandoned to the beak of an angry chicken, being crushed slowly and steadily. She had jumped forward with not a care about how she’d land. She just needed to get through the finish line, even it wasn’t in one piece.

For her family.

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